Gov. Jim Justice, incumbent Governor of West Virginia and Republican candidate in 2020.

Gov. Jim Justice, incumbent Governor of West Virginia and Republican candidate in 2020.

The WVU Student Government Association (SGA) has proposed the Mountaineer Resilience Project which calls on West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to allocate CARES Act funding to the project.

In a resolution this past week, the Mountaineer Resilience Project was proposed as a means to implement more mental health resources on campus.

This project is designed to “help students deal with the challenges that they are facing in regard to mental health, as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” as described in the resolution.

“A lot of the things that we're looking at would potentially be Telehealth, Talk Space funding — also just outreach about the services that do exist," said SGA Sen. Azeem Khan, author of the resolution. "Making sure that the students understand what's available to them as well as education to try and help get rid of the stigma around mental health, which is something that's really important."

SGA is working to secure the funding for this project and has asked Gov. Justice to appropriate money towards the project with leftover CARES Act funds.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which Congress passed on Mar. 25, 2020, and signed into law on Mar. 27 that same year.

CARES Act expenditures must be made by Dec. 31, 2021.

West Virginia has a balance of $127,690,032 left in CARES Act funds as of Nov. 8, 2021, according to the WV State Auditor’s Office COVID-19 transparency website.

This SGA resolution committee has reached out to the Governor’s staff requesting a meeting but has yet to receive one.

“We do have a deadline. This isn't something that we can just wait on forever," Khan said. "So we're hoping that in the coming weeks, we can pick up our outreach a little bit and try and reach back out to the Governor's office to schedule that meeting."

SGA’s Legislative Affairs Officer, Logan Riffey, added that as of last week they have been in contact with State Auditor John B. McCuskey and engaged him on the idea of the Mountaineer Resilience Project.

“He seemed to really like our initiative in doing this,” Riffey said. “We hope to work with some of the recommendations he gave us to strengthen our ask of the Mountaineer Resilience Project to the Governor. And, hopefully by having met with the auditor, that gives the Governor a little bit more exposure to this project so that he would be willing to meet with us and grant us these funds.”

Mental health has become a conversation across college campuses nationwide as a result of COVID-19, and WVU has continued to expand its resources since last year.

“There's a conversation that has begun on college campuses across the country, and that's one of the good things that's come out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Khan said. “So because of that and a lot of the things that happened in the spring, when we came in this year as a new administration and [new] senators, mental health was one of the top priorities, if not the top priority for us.”

The Mountaineer Resilience Project would be collaborative with SGA and the WVU Administration, upon receiving funding for the project.

“Because of the CARES Act, there's a pot of money that's sitting there that can be used to help people. I just don't think that there's a better use of that money than helping college students with their mental health,” Kahn said.